Bertie Arts experiences rapid growth

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2006

WINDSOR – An August 16-18 art workshop taught by artist Chuck McLachlan of Randleman drew students from four counties who wanted to learn more about his loose style of painting.

The workshop was sponsored by Bertie County Arts Council and brought excitement from his students, who are already talking about scheduling McLachlan’s next visit.

After a successful career as an advertising executive, McLachlan serves as an author and lecturer, but focuses on painting. He has produced several teaching videos and a book of his sketches, a reference book for artists, will be published soon. A second book, &uot;East of the Mississippi&uot;, is in progress.

&uot;Workshops are to learn new things – not to compete with other participants. We never do our best work at these classrooms because we’re usually doing something new or absorbing more information than we can digest at one time,&uot; McLachlan says. &uot;We all have good points and weak points, let’s emphasize our good points and at the same time improve our weak points.&uot;

The former professional football player also said, &uot;Coaching high school football taught me how to help players get to the next level. That’s how I approach teaching painting – strengthen the basics and everything else will take care of itself.”

McLachlan continued, &uot;Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.&uot;

Windsor Mayor Robert &uot;Bob&uot; Spivey was one of the people who visited classes at Windsor Community Building to watch the teacher and his students work. The mayor said the workshop is just another example of the impact Bertie County Arts Council makes on the area.

&uot;The arts are growing by leaps and bounds. Bertie County Arts Council brings a lot of people here and is the reason the arts are growing here,&uot; Mayor Spivey said.

&uot;If you just look at the people standing around (at the class), some of our area’s most prominent citizens are interested and they are using it as something to keep them busy, keep their minds active as they get to retirement age,” Mayor Spivey added. “Bertie County Arts Council has a tremendous advantage in many different ways, not just bringing commerce to us.&uot;

BCAC now has 169 active members and 222 total members. Mayor Spivey was involved in the council at a time when it was hard to get enough people together to hold a meeting.

&uot;Five, six, seven years ago I served on a little advisory board for the council and it was a struggle to get seven or eight of us together to talk about what we could do,” Spivey recalled. “Then, Judy Overton and some others came along who were extremely involved and committed to the arts. It has been a tremendous asset to our town and the area.&uot;

Mayor Spivey can also remember when BCAC operated from an office at the Windsor/Bertie Chamber of Commerce and had no place for artists to exhibit their work on a regular basis. In 2003, the town had an opportunity to acquire the old &uot;Bertie Ledger-Advance&uot; newspaper office at 124 South King Street from the Whichard family of Greenville.

The building was flooded in 1999 and remained empty. The town acquired the building and agreed to a long-term lease to BCAC for a nominal fee on condition that the council renovate and provide upkeep on the interior of the building. The town made repairs on the outside of what is now the David Overton Building. The decision to accept the old building was a major one for Windsor Town Commissioners.

&uot;I won’t say the town agonized over the decision, but as we tried to place budget funds in certain places, we realized this was a pretty strong commitment,” Spivey said. “The Council through its vision, through the confidence we had in those people, we thought it was worth the effort. I don’t think you’ll find anybody now who won’t stand up and say ‘I’m glad I voted for it’. For us to be able to attract somebody like we have today (McLachlan) is outstanding.&uot;

BCAC is working on a cookbook, &uot;The Art of Cooking&uot;, which will be on sale in November. Plans are also underway for McLachlan’s students to exhibit their paintings in September in conjunction with an exhibition of art by June Adams of Harrellsville.

&uot;Bertie County Arts Council just keeps coming up with new ideas, that’s one reason it has been so successful,&uot; Mayor Spivey said.